Lowered cars just look cool. I’m not sure what exactly it is about removing wheel gap and shrinking the space between the road and the underbody that makes it so, but that’s the way it is.
There are many ways to accomplish this, and also many reasons to do so. That said, I’ll be quick to admit that air suspension just never has been for me. That isn’t to say I have anything against it, just that it’s never been applicable to any cars I’ve owned. However, my stance on this might have just changed based on a recent purchase of a large, early 2000s Japanese sedan with 380hp, heated and ventilated front and rear seats, a heated steering wheel, motors to soft-close the doors, and motors for everything else as well.
In considering the concept, I did a deep dive through my archive and landed on Chris Cu’s 2014 Infiniti Q50, a car with specs not unlike those listed above. After driving our Lexus LS460 with standard coil spring suspension for nearly 5,000 miles over the last couple months to avoid flights and still visit family, I can finally say I get it.
Some cars just belong on air, and big Japanese-built luxury saloon cars are high on that list.
These are cars that you might be able to call sporty, but that isn’t their calling card. They might be fast by some definitions, but they aren’t really quick, and you probably aren’t exactly going to thrash a grand tourer-type car like this on a mountain pass every weekend. (If you do, more power to you; there’s no wrong way to enjoy your car.)
Rather, who is the target market for a new car with four-zone climate control and parking sensors? A young enthusiast with a tight budget, or your grandpa with cash to spare and comfort as the number one priority?
This is why I’ve always thought it was cool when someone took a car like this and put it on the ground. It’s such a contradiction, and yet nothing at all is lost from the original goal of the car: to cruise in comfort and style. Emphasis on style, once on air.
To further this goal, Chris went above and beyond with his Q50.Style First
Chris’ love for cars dates back, like many of us, to the Fast and Furious era. Before Chris even turned 13 he got hooked on his friends’ copies of Import Tuner, PASMAG, DSPORT, and other similar magazines.
This led to Chris’s eventual purchase of a 370Z, which in turn led to his acquisition of this Q50. They share the same engine so there was a level of familiarity there already, albeit with the comfortable and very useable interior of a sedan.
Chris actually started out with a Maxima, though, and the higher-spec Infiniti models always seems like a reach. But as the years went on, this Q50 became a reality. However after arriving at his goal, this was just the beginning.
The car was fitted with widened bodywork by Ulterior Motives in Sacramento, California, and refinished in a custom pearl white (it came blue from factory). Custom honeycomb-patterned carbon fiber adorns the exterior and is a nice touch that draws you in once you get up close to take in the details. Other changes to the bodywork include a vented SCL Performance hood as well as parts from Blitz: their front bumper, side skirts, and rear diffusers.
Chris says his favorite part of the car are those wide front fenders, and I have to agree the view isn’t bad. They house sizeable 19-inch SSR TF1 wheels that measure 10.5-inch wide up front and 11.5-inch out back, much meatier than I would have thought possible.
The suspension has been modified with Air Lift Performance air struts and is controlled via ALP’s 3H management system. Additional components used to make it all work include SPL front camber arms paired with Megan Racing rear camber arms, traction rods, and toe arms.
To round it all off, 8- and 6-piston 326 Power Japan calipers are mounted over 380mm and 356mm rotors in the front and rear respectively.
Chris wanted to switch to a more ‘functional’ setup after we shot, and has changed wheels at least a couple times, but he said he could never get it to sit right at an increased ride height and ultimately went back to maximum stance. Once you drive a car this low for an extended period of time, I think it would be hard to accept a ride height other than as low as humanly possible.
The camber has been dialed back since we shot this feature, but I was glad that I captured the car as it sits in these photos as I feel it’s somewhat of a time capsule now; a homage to an era in a scene that’s always evolving.Covering The Bases
Under the hood you’ll notice the engine covers and engine bay itself have been painted and some ARC caps have been installed along with Dressupbolts titanium hardware and a Cusco strut bar.
The best part, though, are the Optimus Performance long-tube cold-air intakes paired with a Meisterschaft exhaust with custom quad outlets. I have to admit I’m not one to love the note of a VQ engine, but I did really enjoy how Chris’s sounds with the combination of induction and exhaust components fitted to his car.
In the cabin, Chris installed leather-covered carbon fiber Edirb 023 seats paired with TAKATA Racing harnesses and a chrome-finished harness bar. I feel these slightly defeat the purpose of owning an Infiniti in some ways, but this is just the rambling of an old man who probably would have opted for the cushy factory seats.
It’s hard to argue with that much carbon fiber, though, and you’ll find more on the steering wheel, door inserts, and console. You’ll also notice a Tommykaira shift knob and the Air Lift Performance controller tucked conveniently alongside the center stack.
All things considered, the build is an ambitious one for a young guy, and Chris ultimately credits his friends’ guidance and support for his success at getting the car where it is today.
Best of all this is a car that Chris daily drove at one point, and it was actually featured online and in magazines before it was refinished and further evolved into what you see here. While Chris did end up picking up another daily while the car was being painted — and more recently an LS 400 that I’m keeping a close eye on — the car is hardly a garage queen.
This is the benefit of owning a car that actually works, and that hasn’t been compromised for daily use by how it’s been modified. On that note, I’m sure there are many more years of enjoyment to come for Chris and his Q50.
He once mentioned, “our cars are a reflection of ourselves,” and if that’s the case I think I need to take after Chris, sign off, and get to work in the garage.